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Conflict-Handling Styles

Due to all the changes brought about by COVID-19, have you noticed increased conflict in your home? If so, perhaps understanding Alexander Hiam’s 5 major Conflict-Handling Styles will help.

Number One

We ACCOMMODATE, meaning I lose and you win. When we accommodate, we put aside our needs and desires – sometimes we even put aside our beliefs – and chose to give in to the other person’s requests or demands. Sometimes this is a good and kind strategy to use, but like everything else, overuse can lead to more difficulties.

Number Two

We AVOID, meaning I lose and you lose. When we refuse to discuss something that has caused conflict, it remains unresolved. It festers. Both parties lose.

Number Three

We COMPROMISE, meaning we both win and we both lose. Each person gives something to get something.

Number Four

We COMPETE, meaning I win and you lose. If a child is about to touch a hot stove, the parent’s command to “stop” must win over the child’s desire to do what he or she wishes. This is a healthy use of competing. However, when one person is determined to win at all costs most of the time, this creates an unhealthy, and sometimes dangerous, relationship.

Number Five

We COLLABORATE, meaning I win and you win. When we collaborate with each other, we try to resolve the situation so that each of us is satisfied with the outcome.

Deciding which of the conflict-handling styles to use in a situation depends on the importance of the relationship vs the outcome. For example …

Sometimes, neither the relationship nor the outcome is important. That’s when the AVOID strategy could be used.

If they are both somewhat important, use the COMPROMISE strategy.

However, if the relationship and the outcome are both important, the COLLABORATE strategy is recommended.

Use the COMPETE strategy if the outcome is most important.

If the relationship is most important, use the ACCOMMODATE strategy.

Of course, there is a lot more to be said about this topic. But perhaps this brief introduction can start us thinking about the way we handle conflict.

As Christians, do our beliefs help us resolve conflict or stir it up?

The Bible says that out of the heart the mouth speaks. Surely exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – are the best conflict-handling styles of all.

And let’s not forget, a soft answer turns away wrath.

Submitted by the Family Life Ministry

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